This article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
First of all, what was up with the last scene, where Doctor Strange grows the third eye? Does that mean he is … bad now?
The short answer is that we don’t know much more than what you probably already intuited: The third eye suggests that we may soon see a more powerful, and possibly more evil, incarnation of our familiar Stephen Strange.
The longer answer is that there are a few other characters and powers, both from within this movie and outside of it, that the appearance of the third eye evokes. First, and perhaps most obviously, there is the so-called Sinister Strange that our regular Doctor Strange meets in an alternate universe earlier in the movie, a character who has achieved absolute power and has been corrupted absolutely, and who at one point reveals a very freaky extra eyeball on his forehead. An episode of the Marvel animated series What If … ? also imagines yet another Strange doppelgänger, known as Strange Supreme, who this horror movie–style parting scare could also be evoking. The premise of that episode is that, instead of injuring his hands in the fateful car crash depicted in the first Doctor Strange movie, Strange loses Christine (Rachel McAdams). This propels him to keep soaking up new powers from other beings in order to become powerful enough to bring her back from the dead. As you might expect, this Faustian bargain does not end well, and Strange ends up more isolated than ever. Finally, the third eye also evokes the Eye of Agamotto, the magical pendant Strange wears around his neck, which, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, once contained the Time Stone. In the comics, the Eye of Agamotto is a little different: Instead of holding the Time Stone, it gives Strange a sort of third sight, allowing him to see into the true nature of things—and when he uses it, a third eye appears on his forehead.
In other words, there are a few possibilities of what the eye could mean, but together they suggest that Strange’s experiments with necromancy might have some lingering side effects. Still, to find out the real answer, Marvel will most likely charge us the price of another movie ticket.
What about the midcredits and post-credits scenes? Who was Charlize Theron playing?
That’s Clea, a sorceress (not witch) who’s at least as powerful as Dr. Strange himself. In the comics, she’s the niece of Dormammu—aka the first Doctor Strange’s big bad—and an inhabitant of the Dark Dimension who winds up being Doctor Strange’s love interest and eventually, after his death, his replacement as Sorcerer Supreme. The credits promise us that “Doctor Strange will return,” but just in case Benedict Cumberbatch wants to make The Power of the Dog 2, Marvel has a replacement lined up.
Meanwhile, the post-credits scene is just a gag involving Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi’s longtime collaborator, Bruce Campbell, who played the lead in the Evil Dead trilogy and has made cameo appearances in most of Raimi’s other movies, including all three parts of the original Spider-Man trilogy. Naturally he turns up here as well, in the pivotal role of Pizza Poppa.
Can you just run through the Illuminati? Who they are, and who plays them? And what exactly is Black Bolt’s power, anyway?
The Illuminati are a secret society of superheroes working to keep their Earth safe—basically a publicity-shy version of the Avengers. Their members include:
Reed Richards (John Krasinski). The rest of the Fantastic Four gang—Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm—are MIA, but based on the 4 patch on Reed’s jumpsuit and his passing mention of a wife, we can assume they’re off somewhere else. Marvel’s Fantastic Four movie recently lost its director, but enjoy this brief preview before the Scarlet Witch pops his head like a grape.
Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell). Last seen in the animated What If … ? Peggy Carter’s super-soldiered alter ego makes her live-action debut here, with her own Union Jacked-up version of Captain America’s shield and a frickin’ jet pack. Like Steve Rogers, she reminds us, she can do this all day; unlike Steve Rogers, she gets cut in half by her own shield.
Black Bolt (Anson Mount). Born Blackagar Boltagon and last seen on Marvel’s short-lived Inhumans TV show, he has the power to unleash a devastating shockwave with his voice, which unfortunately also makes it pretty difficult for him to talk. He’s very good at blowing up his own head from the inside, though.
Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch). The Maria Rambeau version of the hero was teased in Captain Marvel and may show up again (alongside WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris as her daughter Monica) in the 2023 movie The Marvels, but for now we get this alternate-universe version of the character.
Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart). You know this guy already, but may not have realized that since Disney bought Fox, which owns the rights to the X-Men universe, they’re free to mix and match. Welcome aboard, Professor X. And so long.
Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Doctor Strange’s nemesis from the first movie is his buddy in this one, although not so much of a buddy that he won’t drug him and let him be turned into a science experiment.
Does this movie have anything to do with What If … ?
Unless you count the appearance of Captain Carter and the general concept of the multiverse, not really.
What was up with the numbering of the universes? The Earth with the Illuminati, etc. was Earth-818, and Doctor Strange was from Earth-616. What’s the significance behind those numbers?
Look, there are a lot of Earths, and you gotta keep track somehow. The numbers—allotted here by the 818 version of Rachel McAdams’s Christine—are consistent from the comics, where the core reality has been known as Earth-616 since before most of the characters in the MCU were even created.
What’s up with the watch that Christine gives to Doctor Strange? Was that all in the first Doctor Strange movie? Why is the watch so important?
In fact, it is! In the first movie, he wears a watch with the inscription “Time will tell how much I love you” and helpfully signed “Christine,” although we don’t see the moment she actually gives it to him until the Memory Lane flashback in the second film. In the first movie, the ability to manipulate time plays a major role in the defeat of the dread Dormammu (and later is awfully helpful in taking down Thanos). In the second, it’s mostly just a token of their multiverse-spanning affection, and an opportunity for a luxury timepiece company to get a few seconds of screen time.
Who was that guy with the green ox head, at the sorcerer fortress? I must know everything about him.
That strapping green bull man, that minotaurian mage, that verdant hunk of magic and muscle, is Rintrah, played by relative newcomer Adam Hugill. Though this towering sorcerer is plainly the most intriguing character in the movie, we don’t learn much about him, and he only gets a line or two while defending the Kamar-Taj. In the comics, however, he is an alien, one who comes to Strange’s rescue and allows the ailing wizard’s spirit to enter his body. He is also, according to one primer on the character, “hyper-intelligent and immensely physically capable.”
Why isn’t Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme?
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, we find out that when Strange abandoned his post for five years during the Blip, Wong (Benedict Wong) took over the title. Also, Wong is pretty great.
What about the books? Was the good book they were talking about the book of … Ashanti?
While the Darkhold, or “the book of the damned,” may appear to be just the kind of haunted tome that Evil Dead writer-director Sam Raimi would conjure up for his first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was last seen in the MCU in WandaVision, in which Wanda first got ahold of it. Before that it made several appearances in the Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Still, yeah, it’s basically the Necronomicon.
As for the good book, that’s The Book of the Vishanti, and just like in the movie, the comics often depict it as a sort of magical undo button for less savory spells.
Is America Chavez a hero I should know about? Is she from the comics?
It’s OK if you don’t know America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) already—she is, indeed, from the comics, and this is her first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. America is the star of her own series of comics, appropriately called America, which started in 2017. But her first appearance in the Marvel comics was back in 2011, when she appeared as a member of superhero troupe the Teen Brigade in a limited comic book series. She later joined the Young Avengers, to which she still belongs.
There’s speculation that the introduction of younger heroes like America, Hawkeye’s Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), and the forthcoming Ms. Marvel’s Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) into the MCU will lead to the on-screen debut of the Young Avengers. That would be a great reason to keep America around: She’s a hero whose true powers only really become apparent toward the end of the movie, after all. Not only can she hop through multiverses, but she also can punch people really hard! And now that she’s training under Wong, that should only be the beginning.
Is Wanda really dead?
The little flash of red light that escapes the collapsing Mount Wundagore seems designed to tell us that she is, although depending on Elizabeth Olsen’s contract, a future movie could tell us it was actually her energy escaping or something. Either way, the movie reminds us that there are an infinite number of Wandas scattered throughout the multiverse, some of whom probably aren’t even homicidal maniacs, which gives Marvel license to bring her back whenever it wants.
Can you explain to me what the deal is with Wanda’s kids?
There’s a lot that can and has been said about Billy and Tommy, the twins who, in the comics, are—and we can’t say this enough—a demon’s tiny baby hands. But for the purposes of the Multiverse of Madness, all you really need to know is that, in WandaVision, Wanda created them, using her magic, as part of a mass delusion she perpetrated as a way to escape her grief over Vision’s death. At the end of the series, she had to give up that delusion, including both Vision and the children she created with him.
What happened to Wanda’s accent?
Basically, Marvel created a nine-episode TV series to allow her to drop it whenever she feels like it.
Who was Michael Stuhlbarg’s character, Dr. West? The audience cheered when he came on screen, and that never really seemed to pay off.
Stuhlbarg was reprising his role from the first Doctor Strange, in which he played rival surgeon Nicodemus West—but really audiences should cheer whenever Michael Stuhlbarg appears in any movie.